When I was elected to Congress, the people of Montana sent a clear message: they wanted more jobs and less government. But the bloated budget deal passed by Congress last week is the very definition of more government.
As Montana’s voice in the U.S. Senate, I’ve been fighting for positive reforms that rein in Washington’s out-of-control spending and regulations that threaten more jobs and bigger paychecks for Montanans.
And we’ve had success – in the past year alone, Congress has cut red tape, put qualified judges on the benches of our nation’s courts and passed once-in-a-generation tax cuts for the American people.
But this recent budget deal is a large step backwards from the progress that’s been made. Instead of shrinking government, this deal grows it by 13 percent, the largest spending increase since 2009. Worse, it suspends the debt ceiling – raising the limit on our nation’s credit card without any effort to deal with our ballooning debt. Our national debt is already over $20 trillion and will only continue to increase.
Hardworking Montana families who have to balance their own checkbooks every day know the truth that Washington politicians refuse to acknowledge: Washington doesn’t have a revenue problem. It has a spending problem.
And rather than tackling this problem, once again Washington politicians shirked their responsibilities and are kicking the can down the road.
Now, some might argue that this budget deal contained some good things, and that voting for $300 billion in more spending over the coming two years was a necessary buy-off in order to achieve the super-majority required by U.S. Senate rules to pass legislation.
But that’s a false choice. We can still support our priorities – like a strong national defense and funding for Montana’s 17 community health centers – while being smart about our nation’s overall budget.
And in fact, a majority of members of Congress did support a much smaller budget agreement. Unfortunately, a minority of the U.S. Senate blocked that agreement, insisting on even more spending and unrelated illegal immigration policies.
The past month of Washington’s broken budget process has made it abundantly clear that things need to change. Irresponsible budgets just breed more irresponsible budgets. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The first bill I introduced after I was elected to Congress was the Balanced Budget Accountability Act. It simply requires some Montana commonsense in our nation’s budgeting process: if Congress can’t pass a balanced budget, Congress shouldn’t get paid.
Raising the debt ceiling, growing spending and spending away our children and grandchildren’s future is irresponsible. This budget was not some months-in-the-making bipartisan moment worthy of our admiration – it’s a classic example of rushed policymaking under the guise of compromise.
I’ve been and continue to be ready to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make the tough decisions necessary to get our budget in order. I hope that others are ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work as well.
That’s what Montanans expect and most importantly, it’s what Montanans deserve.
U.S. Sen. Steve Daines